Written by attorney Joseph Maus

Tips To Help You Avoid A Cruise Ship Accident

The cruise season is just ramping up and thousands of people are starting to focus on their upcoming ocean vacation. They are reading their brochures, checking out the ship's itinerary, and thinking about what to pack for their fun week at sea. The one thing most people aren't thinking about, though, is reading the seven to ten pages worth of restrictions that come with their cruise ship tickets, or the limitations and requirements that need to be followed if they are involved in a cruise ship accident or injury. There are many types of accidents that can occur on the high seas, ranging from accidents that passengers caused to accidents due to weather or engineering problems. The four main types of accidents are: Weather-Related - Rough seas, rain, and high winds can all contribute to the risk of a cruise ship accident. To help minimize potential accidents, be sure to:

  • Hold on to handrails when walking on board during rough weather.

  • Stay below decks and don't go outside during inclement weather.

  • Watch out for falling objects that might fly out of your cabin closets or drawers and doors that may suddenly swing open.

  • Stay in your cabin or the location you are in if the ship loses power and wait for further instructions from the crew.

Cruise ship-Related - Cruise ships can be subject to any number of problems such as fires, malfunctioning stabilizers, and faulty engines. These problems could potentially cause the ship to list to one side suddenly, run aground, or slow down. You can help yourself, the crew and your fellow passengers the most during a cruise ship-related problem by:

  • Knowing where yourr muster station is.

  • Following crew directions immediately.

Not hampering the crew with questions until the problem is resolved. Passenger Related - People on vacation often are enjoying the day and not paying as much attention as they should to things that are happening around them. Be sure to:

  • Refrain from overindulgence of alcohol.

  • Use the ship's sporting equipment, lounge chairs, and other items only for their intended purposes.

  • Follow all crew instructions, including posted warning labels.

As mentioned before, be sure to use the handrails on stairways, gangways, and while near the edge of the deck in case the ship suddenly lists or turns. Shore Excursion-Related - Shore excursions bring a visit to another country to life, but they can also be risky. When on a shore excursion, be sure to:

  • Listen to the instructions of the tour operators and follow them carefully.

  • Be honest about your ability and your prior experience for more strenuous tours such as horseback riding, diving, climbing, or hiking.

  • Behave responsibly to avoid causing potential accidents or injuries.

  • Wear your seat belt on tour buses and taxis and use car seats for young children. Also wear life vests on ship's tenders, if provided.

If you are the victim of a cruise ship accident you will help your case by:

  • Insisting that you get a report detailing the incident from the cruise ship personnel.

  • Keeping your cruise ship ticket after your injury. It provides details on some of the "special requirements" that govern your cruise and cruise ship accident, and your attorney will need it.

  • Getting the names and contact information for any passengers that may have been witnesses or may know about the accident.

  • Getting the names and identification information for any cruise ship personnel that may have been a witness or may know about the accident.

  • Documenting the area where the accident occurred, including any defective conditions that may have contributed to the accident.

  • Seeking medical attention and complaining about any part of your body that was injured, no matter how severe or minor.

  • Requesting that the ship personnel preserve any materials or evidence that is related to the accident or injury. It is best to make this request in writing and keep a copy for yourself. Your request should include the preservation of any on board video tape surveillance.

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